The world isn’t as it should be. You only need to go online or open any newspaper and you’ll see stories about people being victimised; taken advantage of by those in power over them. This is abhorrent and is an aberration of how the world is meant to be.
Lately there has been a lot of coverage to do with women who have been victimised by men – when this happens it is horrific but the issue isn’t simply men against women or even some men against women, it is a far more wide-ranging wound on society in which people – of either sex – take advantage of those more vulnerable than themselves.
Whether it is men against women, adults against children, the young against the old, or other groups! The problem lies not just in the heart of men – or even just in the heart of some men, but in the heart of every single human being there was, is, or ever will be.
The Problem We Have
Statistics from the Childmatters.org.nz site state that on average, one child is killed every 5 weeks from abuse, most of these children are under 5, and the largest group are under one year old.
On the Areyouok.org.nz site they state that 24% of women and 6% of men have reported sexual assault in their lifetime, and that disabled women are twice as likely to be the victims of violence or abuse compared to other women.
In June this year the New Zealand Herald reported that in the past twelve months, Age Concern Otago had dealt with 168 cases of elder abuse in Dunedin and wider Otago.
The problem is massive. These statistics are sickening, and these problems are all in our own backyard, but every country has the same problem – every country has people who abuse the vulnerable.
It is not simply a problem that one type of person has – it is not limited to white people, to men, to adults – this abuse of power is evident everywhere. This is an incredibly bleak picture, but it is not the end of the story.
The Solution We Need
There are many things which can help lessen how often these despicable events take place.
Educational programs can be set up to teach the next generation about respecting and looking after one another. Women can take self-defence classes to be better equipped to protect themselves. Better accountability in churches, schools, and other organisations that deal with children can be put into place, and many other such things.
These things will all help but like a piece of tape around a leaky tap they can only do so much. The real problem isn’t in simply changing how people act but in the fundamental changing of our hearts.
In Romans chapter 3, verse 10, Paul diagnoses the problem by saying, “No one is righteous, no not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.”, and in verse 23 he says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Yet the good news, the ‘great’ news in fact, comes in verses 24-25a – “and are justified by his gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.”
While they are useful, what we need most isn’t another campaign, or educational program. What we need most is the life-changing, heart-renewing, all powerful work of God in our lives, in our country, and in our world.
The real problem is not that people do abhorrent things to each other. It’s that people have sinful hearts that need transforming through the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit.
Why Practical Wisdom and Justice Should Go Together
When a crime happens, justice should always be done. It does not matter whether the victim could have done something different. If a crime was committed, then according to the laws of our land (and the Bible) the guilty party should come under judgement by the appropriate civil authorities.
The police and the courts are not an insurance company. They cannot withhold justice like an insurer would withhold an insurance pay out because the insuree left their car unlocked and it was robbed.
Justice must be done – it must be done fairly, not by vigilantes, and it must be done uniformly – regardless of who the victim is or how they behaved. Yet, this should not be confused with encouraging people to be wise in how they interact with society.
Parents shouldn’t let their small children wander to the playground unattended. People should lock their cars to dissuade burglars. And it is a wise idea not to walk down dark alleys if you’re a woman (unless you have excellent self defence training perhaps).
We live in a broken world and ideally, we would not have to protect our children, ourselves, or even our property from others who have criminal intent, but the sad truth is that we do.
Not doing this does not mean that it is in any way acceptable for us to be victimised by others but until Jesus comes back to finally and fully make things right, we must come to terms with the fact that the world is not as we would like it to be and sometimes we must do things that we shouldn’t have to do.
Jessica McPherson lives with her best friend and husband, Eoin and their family of rescue animals in Christchurch. She loves reading, writing, photography and scrapbooking but most of all sharing God’s love and truth with a hurting world. Jessica is particularly passionate about encouraging children and building them up in gospel truth.